12 dead in Gary, 374 sick from COVID-19

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By Erick Johnson

Twelve residents in Gary have died from COVID-19 and 374 were infected with the virus as of April 27, according to Mayor Jerome Prince.

In East Chicago, three people have died and 47 have been infected with the virus.

In Indiana, the number of cases continues to rise as Governor Eric Holcomb leans towards reopening the state as businesses continue to suffer from the financial toll under Indiana’s stay at home order.

Overall, 844 residents in Indiana have died from COVID-19, 15,961 have been infected and 84,476 have been tested, according to the Indiana State Health Department.

In Lake County, COVID-19 has killed 80 people and infected 1,586. About 7,447 Lake County residents have been tested as of April 27. In Hammond, 10 residents have died and 237 have been infected.

In Munster, eight have died and 84 were infected with COVID-19, according to the Lake County COVID-19 Dashboard.

In his daily update, Prince said the he recently learned that the Indiana State Department of Health tested 1,357 at Saint Timothy Church in Gary. He said testing continues at Methodist Hospital-Northlake, Community Health Net and Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living.

The Gary Health Department is conducting tests by appointment only at its facility at 1145 W. 5th Ave. The Gary Health Department is still operating, but remains closed to the public during the pandemic.

It’s uncertain how many people have been tested at the Gary Health Department’s facility. Through a staff member, the Crusader left a message for Dr. Ronald Walker, Gary’s Health Commissioner, who did not respond as of press time Wednesday for the Crusader’s print edition.

However, On April 27, Prince said starting April 29, the Gary Health Department will begin free, upfront testing at its facility. Residents must have a doctor’s order and should bring any proof of medical insurance.

Lake County does not include COVID-19 statistics from Gary and East Chicago on its online dashboard. Both cities have their own health departments but have not reported the total number of people tested in their cities.

City leaders have said they do not know the total number of Gary residents who have been tested, but in his daily update Monday, Prince said “through extensive testing, we will get a complete picture of the rate of COVID-19 in Gary.”

Prince said because there was little testing conducted last weekend, the city does not know how many Gary residents have the virus.

There was talk this week of Governor Holcomb amending his stay at home order. The order was set to expire on Friday, May 1. There is concern among residents in Gary of the governor lifting the order while thousands in Gary and East Chicago remain untested for the virus.

A third of all Indiana COVID-19 deaths in the state have happened at long-term care facilities. The state will start providing details on their website regarding these facilities. Data will be collected on Fridays and provided on Mondays.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration said Medicaid, SNAP and TANF recipients from now through August will not have co-payments for doctor visits. All families will now receive maximum SNAP benefits.

A new website BeWellIndiana.org, was launched April 27 to help Indiana residents get mental health help and support for addiction recovery during the pandemic.

“It is imperative that we recognize how our mental health is affected by this pandemic,” Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “I am proud of the public/private collaboration and expertise from so many of our partners captured in this single resource. BeWellIndiana.org is a reflection of the care and concern our fellow Hoosiers have for one another.”

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